President Muhamadu Buhari’s government supports and believes in the freedom of the press and that is why no journalist is under detention, Mallam Garba Shehu has said. Garba Shehu who is the Senior Special Assistant Media and Publicity was speaking at a workshop on Enhancing Political Parties Visibility in Social and Mainstream Media organised in
President Muhamadu Buhari’s government supports and believes in the freedom of the press and that is why no journalist is under detention, Mallam Garba Shehu has said.
Garba Shehu who is the Senior Special Assistant Media and Publicity was speaking at a workshop on Enhancing Political Parties Visibility in Social and Mainstream Media organised in Abuja by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru. He posited that Nigerians should commend the Buhari government for allowing freedom of speech in the country. “That is why there is no detention of any journalist under any guise, anywhere in the country today
“Individuals should be held accountable for their actions. So, it is not impossible to have one or two journalists having issues with state governors, police authorities or other agencies, these have nothing to do with the government of President Buhari” he said.
The government does not believe in a clampdown of the media because it cannot do the thinking for all Nigerians alone but wants to encourage plurality of opinions as it believes the media has a duty to accommodate all views including dissenting ones. This has to be done responsibly because “we have a duty to elevate the level of discuss; the language of the disagreement should be decent, not abusive and not rude”
He observed that the influence of the mainstream media is dwindling because of activities of the social media. “Contents of newspapers are now easily predictable, after scanning through the digital space for trending stories. It is sad and unfortunate that some newspapers even pick their stories from bloggers who are not qualified to practice journalism, because they did not train as journalists. He admonished that this should not be so.
“It is so bad that anybody holding a phone now is a journalist. You can do a recording and broadcast immediately. Even regular media are now being challenged yet you cannot control what people say into their telephone and broadcast” he noted.
Admitting that ownership often plays a role in the control and content of the media, Mallam Shehu said there was nothing wrong for political parties to own their newspapers if they can afford it. He noted that historically media ownership in Nigerian was linked to activism or political partisanship.
He urged Publicity Secretaries of political parties to invest in research and push out quality viewpoints, and also rein in on their supporters not to use the social media negatively, welcome polarization of ideas and encourage robust public discuss.
He said the media should be used positively to promote inclusivity while political parties should strive to use the media to stabilize the country, integrate the country and build the country.